Tag Archives: Feminism

The Rape of Sansa Stark: Your Argument is Invalid

When people ask me if I consider myself a feminist I tend to shrug and mutter something along the lines of “I don’t know, whatever”. This tends to elicit the follow-up question of whether or not I believe in gender equality, which, of course, I tend to answer with yes. I hold some fairly feminist opinions. Perhaps it’s that people tend to label people to understand the world better, or perhaps the feminist movement is simply desperate for people to champion their cause, because once you admit to believe in gender equality they smack you with their blunt, self-contented logic and declare you a feminist. I’m not unequivocally flattered when this happens to me, partly because I prefer to approach issues without bias, and partly because I don’t want to be counted among the kind of idiots who scream bloody murder at the sight of a Westerosi woman being raped.

Yesterday, I wrote a short, very annoyed rant about this, blissfully unaware that the self-righteous moral outrage over Sansa’s rape would spread like wildfire and flood my Facebook news feed throughout the day. It was all fine and dandy; I thought I’d said (blogged) the last about it until I came upon an article of The Daily Beast, basically my favorite source of news and thinkpieces, called: “The Rape of Sansa Stark: Game of Thrones goes off-book and enrages its female fans“. Aside from the fact that the title is misleading (the outrage is obviously about the rape scene; not about going “off-book”), the article stupidly sides with the female fans it mentions, using arguments that wouldn’t be worth arguing against if 75% of the world population wasn’t made up of idiots. Et tu, Daily Beast?

Making me school people, again.

The author, a certain Melissa Leon, starts her article by donning her Captain Obvious cape:

Sansa Stark was raped for absolutely no reason during Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones.

When an article starts with a line like that, you already know you’re about to read the opinion of a person who, judging from the way they reason, should not be allowed to vote or participate in politics at all, lest they’d ruin the world one step at a time. Rape and Ramsey-levels of sadism usually have no reason other than the pleasure of the violator, but all right, this obnoxiously self-righteous opening line must be read within context, so I will not try to be clever.

Sansa is a victim again

The article proceeds with an accurate recap of the events prior to the rape scene:

The rightful heir to Winterfell wed Roose Bolton’s bastard son in a move meant to help win back her home and exact revenge for her murdered mother and brother. And indeed, Sansa is all self-assured sass and agency in the moments before the wedding. She puts Myranda, Ramsay’s conniving lover, in her place and declares, “I’m Sansa Stark of Winterfell. This is my home and you can’t frighten me.” Then she strides toward the godswood where she exchanges vows with a man she intends to see destroyed—making her, for the first time, a real player in the game of thrones.

While it is clear that Sansa Stark intends to reclaim Winterfell, we don’t quite know what her plans for Ramsay Bolton are. Of course, knowing Roose Bolton was responsible for the murder of both her mother and brother, it is safe to assume she doesn’t appreciate Ramsay and hopes bad things happen to him. Partly thanks to Littlefinger, Sansa has adopted the attitude that she must do what she must to get what’s hers. She has toughened up and she is most certainly planning something, but her focus has been on Winterfell rather than Ramsay. While it is very likely she intends to see Ramsay destroyed, we have learned nothing about anything she may or may not be plotting and, as we know, anything can take a twist at any time in Game of Thrones.

It is important to remember this because here lay the foundation for the author’s expression of outrage that follows immediately:

But the newlyweds’ wedding night ends with a scene that goes the opposite way, rendering Sansa helpless and victimized—again.

Since there was nothing to indicate Sansa was planning on murdering Ramsay on their wedding night, the expectation that she would seems rather gullible, or self-serving given the point the article argues. In Game of Thrones, plots take time to unfold (and this is one of its strengths). Anyone looking for instant gratification should watch an Avengers movie. Additionally, unless Sansa was carrying a knife in her sleeve, there was no way she would not have been helpless on her wedding night, which, in Westeros, is the night where husband and wife consummate their marriage for the first time, alone, behind closed doors, in a bedchamber (not an armory where either one could pick an axe off the wall and hack into his or her new spouse). The rape didn’t render Sansa more or less helpless than she would have been otherwise.

Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken – and indulgence of victimhood

The author’s following outrage is so void of understanding that it would have been hilarious if The Daily Beast didn’t have such a wide platform:

Ramsay rips Sansa’s wedding gown apart, bends her over, then forces his way into her as she cries out in pain. (This episode is preciously titled “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken.”)

Aw, the girl tries her hand at sarcasm. How precious. Nevermind that the episode devoted, what, 10 or 15 minutes (?) to Jaime Lannister and Bronn sneaking into the Water Gardens to kidnap or rescue Myrcella (depending on how you look at it), and that they spent a while fighting with the Sandsnakes, who are of House Martell, whose words are “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”. Sansa is not the center of the Game of Thrones universe. We disregard that now, because rape and feminism.

Should anyone want to connect the words of House Martell to Sansa’s rape anyway, an empowering way to twist this would be to assume that the rape strengthens Sansa’s resolve to kill the shit out of the Boltons. While Sansa has had a lot to endure and her wedding night was horrifying, the expectation that she is now broken is more offensive than the rape itself. I would argue this for real life rape victims as well. Acknowledging hurt and giving compassion is not similar to denying a person’s resilience, strength, and ability to heal. Positive affirmation is way more productive than pity and emphasizing victimhood. Remember: rape victims need empowerment, not victimhood.

Medieval times call for medieval… norms

So, having dumped that bit of life wisdom here, let’s move on to the following mindless statement:

Theon Greyjoy is forced to watch as Sansa—who is still only around 15 years old!—loses her virginity to a sadist.

At this point I am just wondering if this woman has been paying attention to the show at all. Has she been watching this show absentmindedly, with a notebook in her hand, waiting for something outrageous to happen so she could quickly scribble it down and rage about it online?

I’m afraid I will have to spell this one out.

Long ago, and I do mean centuries and centuries ago, there was a period of time we now know as the Middle Ages. In that time it was not uncommon – in fact it was very common – to marry off girls when they were around the age of 12. The reasons for these marriages were often political or economical.

If you were uneducated enough not to know this, yet it sounded oddly familiar to you, it must be because you have been watching Game of Thrones. Indeed, the story takes place in a world very similar to medieval Britain. There are a few fantasy elements in it, such as non-existing places, dragons, and sorcery, but there are a few things to give the approximate time period away: firstly, there is little fucking technology (screws and bolts count as technique as well, in case another uneducated fuck wanted to argue there was no technology at all). People ride around on horseback, for crying out loud. Secondly, the people are simple-minded (they’ve come up with geographical names such as ‘the Fork’ and ‘the Sapphire Isle’). Thirdly, almost none of the women wear pants. Fourthly, they fight with swords instead of guns. Fifthly, they fucking marry around the age of twelve!!!

Jesus Christ.

So, of course, if a man wanted to rape his fresh wife she would be around that age.

Do some fucking research. I’ll even help you in the right direction:

One of the strengths of Game of Thrones, as with all good fiction but particularly this story, is that it is realistic. You can’t write a story about a medieval-like time and have people marry at ages that are acceptable to us now. No one would buy into it. Well, no one intelligent anyway.

Whether the rape was or wasn’t pointless (or: clairvoyance at work – or: the utter ignorance about storytelling)

The article goes on to say that the rape scene had no value because it didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. The author’s complete and utter stupidity and ignorance of story development is so painfully obvious that you have to wonder if she is truly of the opinions she assesses, or if she gets off on presenting herself as a feminist and uses every goddamn excuse she can possibly find for it. Her opinions are so frustratingly dumb that there should be a petition to banish her to Narnia, where she will never be allowed internet access again, so she can spend her days petting Aslan and vexing the Ice Queen (if she still lives/reigns) with her self-righteousness.

Melissa literally writes:

From a storytelling perspective, this scene is extraneous bullshit.

Urgh.

She says:

It uselessly regurgitates everything we already know about these characters: Ramsay is a psychopath, Theon/Reek is tortured, and the resilient Sansa will endure whatever it takes to survive. Nothing new was established here. What was the point?

Five seasons in and the woman doesn’t realize we’re way past the introductory stage. We certainly do already know all these things, Melissa, thanks for noting. You may want to consider character development instead of character introduction.

The scene certainly wasn’t about motivating Sansa; she already wants every Bolton dead and has concocted a plan with Littlefinger to make that happen. Her plotline was not advanced at all by this scene.

What? How the fuck can anyone know? Firstly, Sansa and Littlefinger didn’t discuss specifics, but then that’s not even relevant. Sansa married Ramsay Bolton, not knowing what a complete psychopath he was, thinking she would have to endure him until Littlefinger’s return. Judging by the look of shock on her face when he told her to undress and Theon to stay in the room, she didn’t quite expect him to be this cruel. Now she’s found out that he is, and two things can happen: one, she descends back into victimhood, or two, she kills the fucker before Littlefinger’s return. Since she was just dipping her toe into badassery, I’m expecting the latter. I am passionately hoping for it, too, if only for the sake of being a role model to rape victims. (Though not in the least because I appreciate badassery.)

On a very related note, Brienne did tell her to light a candle in the tower window if she needed help. Sansa obviously didn’t plan on lighting that candle, but she might do so now and Brienne might come to her rescue. Advancing the plot line one step at a time.

In any event, unless you’re clairvoyant, or unless the next episodes have been leaked to you, you can’t know if this advances her plotline.

Was it for Reek then? To spur him out of his mental state and help the poor damsel in distress? Reek has already lost his identity and suffered months of torture, humiliation, and lest we forget, had his cock chopped off thanks to Ramsay; his reasons for hating the bastard are set in stone. No story-bound justification for depicting the rape of an underage girl, then making it all about a male supporting character’s feelings, exists here.

Oh, so much stupid.

Indeed, there is a good possibility that Theon (or Reek if you will) will want to help the “poor damsel in distress”. And indeed, he already has plenty of reasons for hating Ramsay Bolton. I would say “excellent point”, were it not that this bit completely ignores the more complex parts about Theon’s character. Having been abused so relentlessly and persistently by Ramsay Bolton, Theon not only hates Ramsay but is completely submissive to him. This is not merely out of fear but also from a form of self-loathing that in the real world many abuse victims suffer from as well. You simplify the character by saying all that drives him is fear and hatred for Ramsay, when he is in a perpetual state of self-denial and sometimes more or less believes he deserves what Ramsay is doing to him. Of course this is far more obvious in the books than it is in the show, but since the author of the article refers to the books later in the article I am going to assume she’s read them. (Aside from that, if you’re going to stand up for abuse victims you will want to do some in-depth research into the psyche of abuse victims, lest you say something stupid and misinform thousands of readers.)

The fact that Theon already feels terribly guilty about taking Winterfell from the Starks may have something to do with why he believes he deserves what Ramsay does to him. However, much more importantly, aside from having taken Winterfell, he is partly responsible for Winterfell falling into the Boltons’s hands, which means he is partly responsible for what happens to Sansa. Thus, seeing her get raped would be a legitimate catalyst for him to “help the poor damsel in distress”, not to be brushed off as the old-fashioned chivalry snubbed by modern day misandrists, eh, I mean, feminists.

On that note, where was your outrage when his cock was chopped off? Or was it fine because he is a white male in a white male world? Fuck human suffering, right? Tits unite, because this:

making it all about a male supporting character’s feelings“.

Because, since we are fighting for gender equality, we would certainly never want to admit that men having feelings as well! How dare they steal the spotlights when we are so busy showing them how much we suffer from their hands! How dare a man come to the rescue of a woman when she is being raped (or in Theon’s case, possibly shortly thereafter)! He should just push a can of pepper spray into her hands and take off! Bitch can deal, right? Why would we need compassion and friendship and love between genders? Why would we, strong and independent women, accept a man’s help at all? We can handle our shit! We’re all ninjas!

Seriously, this author needs to go fuck herself. Ramsay and Theon are both white males, but Ramsay is not Theon and Theon is not Ramsay. Men are individuals as much as women are. “Rape culture” is a buzz word nowadays (and that’s stupid enough as it is, it’s really just a deeply ingrained sexual repression of which rape is a part, stemming from a time when churches dictated their idea of virtue and decency, but sure we can simplify things), and it’s fine that everyone is making a point out of empowering women, and saying enough is enough. I’m all for that.

But let’s not forget that we are watching a world where women are only valued for birthing heirs. (If this offends you, I refer you to the part above where I briefly explain medieval  times.) In Westeros, women are very, very oppressed. (Just ask Cersei.) Rape is not uncommon, and women are often reliant on men. That said, Game of Thrones has many badass women: Brienne of Tarth, Arya Stark, Cersei Lannister (say what you will, she is not to be messed with), Olenna Tyrell, the Sandsnakes… just from the top of my head. Game of Thrones doesn’t make a habit out of portraying women as victims, even though it would not be unfitting given the hardly developed world the story is set in. Game of Thrones is this kind of story. It can’t be politically correct. It can’t engage in social debates. It would not do the story justice. It is a world in which women suffer, and, as such, every now and then women are rescued by men. (If this is not your thing you should watch The Hunger Games instead.)

If it served the plot to zoom in on Theon’s face instead of showing us Sansa’s suffering, that’s fine. It should be fine. So Theon may come to the help of Sansa Stark. Brienne of Tarth has slain far too many men to accuse Game of Thrones of portraying women as traditional victims. Of all the hardships Game of Thrones characters have suffered, HBO should not make adjustments because this scene happened to have rape in it.

The Rape of Daenerys and Cersei

The author goes on, though…

Then again, what did we expect? HBO’s high fantasy epic has always handled rape poorly. Dragon queen Danaerys Targaryen coped with her sexual assault in Season 1 by falling madly in love with her rapist, Khal Drogo. In last year’s episode “Breaker of Chains,” Jaime Lannister forced himself on his twin sister Cersei under the corpse of their dead son, Joffrey.

Oh. So much stupidity. Oh, fuck.

Okay, here we go. Once again, in medieval times women were married off to men (at a young age). On their wedding night they fucked, as they were supposed to. This probably happened with much reluctance or a complete lack of mutual consent, seeing as neither parties would have chosen each other out of love or lust (often, anyway).

Obviously, Khal Drogo was going to consummate his marriage. Now, Daenerys didn’t have a choice in marrying him and she may or may not have looked forward to their wedding night. She certainly did appreciate Khal Drogo’s gift and gentleness beforehand. While she may not have liked her wedding night, she was well aware that this was expected of her as his wife. My point in case is that within this context you can’t expect mutual consent, especially not explicit mutual consent.

That said, Khal Drogo was rough because, obviously, he was a Dothraki. Perhaps HBO should have done a better job making the viewer aware of this, but Daenerys understood this and Drogo wasn’t bad for her. She didn’t see Drogo as her rapist; she saw Drogo as a husband with the right to fuck her. While this may be hard to fathom now, in a time and world (country) where women have much more freedom and say in their own sexuality, it didn’t occur to Daenerys that Drogo was in the wrong, leaving room for her to fall in love with him.

The books tell it better than the show has done, one must agree to that. In the books, Daenerys mostly suffer from the sex she has with Drogo because of her riding sores and bruises (she doesn’t mention once that she doesn’t want him to fuck her), and because she is lonely (does not speak Dothraki, does not know the area, and so on). But she does fall in love with Drogo eventually.

As for Jaime and Cersei… aside from the world and time these people live in… their relationship is so twisted and inherently wrong that it is such an obvious non-example of healthy human interaction. No one would look at them and think: “well, that seems pleasant, why not give it a go?” Jaime and Cersei are so fucked up that the rape scene could not have come as surprise – and it could not have come as a surprise that it did not have repercussions. You can pull anything out of context this way.

The worst part about this is probably not that the rape scene occurred at all, but that people were truly outraged by it. As if Cersei and Jaime are the epitomes of romance and people wanted to see some sort of tender lovemaking.

Can we please stop screaming bloody murder over everything that upsets us, and just stop to think and interpret for a second? Because once we stop thinking and interpreting, we are seriously dumbing down ourselves and the generations that follow after.

“Higher-profile fans” condemn the show

But this latest violation has touched a nerve among even the show’s higher-profile fans. Missouri Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill tweeted this morning that she is “done” with Game of Thrones. “Gratuitous rape scene disgusting and unacceptable,” she wrote. “It was a rocky ride that just ended.” Geek girl culture site The Mary Sue has resigned itself from all coverage of the show, with editor-in-chief Jill Pantozzi writing in part, “We’re constantly asking for better from those creating the media we love, for them to really think about what they’re putting out into the world. We simply can’t bring ourselves to be excited by a product which no longer meets our needs as fans.” And Deadspin’s headline reflects a growing sentiment among TV critics in the wake of this latest rape scene: “Game of Thrones Is Gross, Exploitative, and Totally Out of Ideas.”

It is pitiful and disconcerting that a successful politician does not possess the intelligence required to interpret a scene like that, although it must be said she may have a point (somewhat) by calling it gratuitous. The scene did come as a surprise; Ramsay had seemed eager to marry Sansa and he was rather taken by her.

However. Let’s bring the context back in. Yes, Ramsay is a sick fuck, but that’s an easy excuse. What matters here is that Sansa is a Stark and Winterfell is hers. Sansa was fairly sharp at the dinner table with Ramsay and Roose, and Ramsay already did confront her with Theon only to gloat over it. Obviously, Ramsay wants to show Sansa who’s boss. Rape fits into that, as it’s a way of humiliating and submitting her. A bit of pondering (and paying attention) can lead anyone to this conclusion, but there has been research that proved cell phones and social media significantly narrow our attention span, so that must have something to do with it, and I can understand that – if you mainly think in 140 characters – it can be difficult to understand and interpret human behavior.

As for The Mary Sue… what can I say? Surely censorship will greatly improve our global society. It will also serve us greatly, as a species I mean, to remain focused on victimhood and never acknowledge the people who take matters into their own hands and fight and kick ass. We must honor the pitiful before the admirable.

And I’m not even going to start about Deadspin. A sixth book is in the making.

Anyway, good riddance and back to masturbating to your own self-righteousness.

But wait…

Rape is not a necessary plot device; it is not a prop or a parlor trick to include for an end-of-episode shocker. On the rare occasion that sexual violence is depicted with a justifiable purpose, it’s the consequences and emotional aftermath—not all the gory details of the act itself—that matter most.

Consequences and emotional aftermath. Both later. TV series work in such a way that one episode follows the other, so you find out what the consequences or emotional aftermath are bit by bit. Later. I am glad to find the author does have some comprehension of how stories work after all. Now, all she needs is a comprehension of TV shows.

As for the gory details, we saw Ramsay tear her dress and bend her over. One moment it’s not okay to zoom in on Theon, the next we don’t want the details. That’s weird.

Of course I do understand what she’s saying, although given everything she’s said before it’s of less importance and slightly irrelevant. She doesn’t want rape to be the closing scene of an episode, because that would make rape exploitative in the sense that people will want to know what happens next and watch again a next episode. So, in short she is saying that rape benefits HBO.

But it’s just so fucking hypocritical given the kind of show that we’re talking about. One of the currently written books ends with a scene where one of the characters gets stabbed with knives, possibly to death. Bad things happen, and they make you want to know what happens next. Stories need conflicts and plot twists and awful stuff to empathize with (or relate to) the characters. This is not just true for Game of Thrones. It is true for nearly every TV show and book series out there.

Hypocricy

Perhaps the rape scene had no justifiable purpose, but this is something to conclude after we know what happens next. And if or when we do, that’s when we start criticizing. Right now, everyone is getting their panties in a twist simply and only because the scene had rape in it.

And if depiction of sexual violence is rarely justifiable, it should be similar with any sort of violence. I didn’t hear anyone weep when the skin was flayed off Theon’s finger, or when Jory got a dirk in his eye, or when Ros was tortured and killed by Joffrey, or when Joffrey’s guards went around killing babies (even though it wasn’t explicit), or when the Red Viper’s eyes were pushed into his skull by the Mountain. Or are these things all justifiable because it’s a different sort of violence? Or because most of them were men, perhaps?

Never change, Game of Thrones

We don’t want to quit watching; we’re pleading with the show’s makers to fix how they depict this awful, very real thing.

It’s your move, Game of Thrones. We’re watching.

Such is the closing plea of the author of this horrible article. I’m not quite sure what she wants HBO to do. Make it more awful? More realistic? Surely that would not make these scenes any more pleasant to watch. Make it less realistic, then, perhaps, and more pleasant? Surely that would be more offensive (I think so, anyway). Not depict it at all then? What kind of strange reasoning does one need to believe that censorship does not lead to taboos, and will in any way contribute to a healthier attitude towards sex and victims of sexual violence?

Was this scene insensitive to rape victims? Perhaps, yes, if they would truly bother to wonder why the episode ended with such a scene. It could be reason for being upset with HBO. However, it is not our job to wonder why HBO decided to have that scene at the end of the episode. While we could be right when we make an educated guess, you can’t know what goes on behind the scenes, why decisions are made when they are made, so it is technically just speculation. It is our job to watch and judge the content; the characters, the way the story develops, and so on. Besides, HBO is not here to heal us. If we would ban exploitation of human suffering all together, we would have very, very, very little entertainment to choose from. The worst part is probably that the story of Game of Thrones (and definitely of A Song of Ice and Fire) is one of the best, most complex, most intriguing, well thought out stories there are out there. If you’re going to complain about the things we accept as entertainment, then please start with Adam Sandler movies.

Game of Thrones is hard, violent, intruiging, twisted, and, at times, controversial. It has role models and victims and villains and everything in between. It exploits human suffering, as well as human depravity, like there’s no tomorrow. That is the kind of show you’re watching. If it’s not your cup of tea, fucking please leave the show to the real fans and watch Pretty Little Liars instead.

Feminism…

This “woe is me” attitude is not feminism. People need to learn the difference between feminism and victimhood. People need to learn that feminism is about equality by means of empowerment, not about pointing fingers and feeling sorry for ourselves.

Let’s blame rapists (and the church if you must), instead of throwing our enemies one heap and refer to them as the “white male”. That’s not even feminist, that’s misandry and slightly touches on racism. There’s a difference between acknowledging what caused the current state of the world, and being angry with half the population of the western world because you feel misunderstood.

And yes, we do need acknowledgement for the suffering of rape victims, and yes, we do need more awesome female role models, and yes, we do need to drop Miley Cyrus in a sink hole and close it with cement. Yes, we need all these things. But we are not going to get there if we sit here feeling sorry for ourselves each time we feel slighted for being a woman. Stop complaining, avoid the things you don’t like (just treat Game of Thrones like the irresistible but bad boyfriend), don your cape (not the Captain Obvious one), and go out and conquer the fucking world and lead by example. Focus on what you do want and not on what you don’t want. That’s when you change something. (And yes I am aware of the irony.)

Because this version of feminism is just appalling, and it is definitely not in my name. Indeed, as a woman I distance myself from it.

Sorry ladies, but you need to man the fuck up.

You have been schooled.

Oh, and yes, I was sexually assaulted as well. Thanks for asking.

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Grown Up 2: the worst, most offensive, misogynistic movie I’ve ever seen

Don’t get me wrong. I love humor when it’s a bit mean. A lot mean. I love satire, sarcasm, a limited dose of cynicism, and stereotypes to a certain extent. I’m not sore, I’m not easily offended, and I think everyone should be able to take the piss every now and then. I’m short, and back in high school my friends told me they’d come up with a new sport for which I could be used as an asset: dwarf throwing. They never actually did it, of course, but just to say: I wasn’t sore about it. (I’m not that short, by the way, nor that light-weighted.)

Grown Up 2, however, I found hugely offensive. (My plan was to describe the movie in its entirety but… I didn’t make it. So here’s a long description of the first part and all that’s wrong with it. Spoilers are coming.) Firstly it was offensive to its viewers; to assume it could entertain them with such easy, sloppy humor. Secondly it was offensive to Chris Rock, David Spade, and Kevin James. All great actors who did not deserve to have such a monstrosity of a movie besmirch their acting history or resume. The same goes for Salma Hayek, Maya Rudolph, and Shaquille O’Neal. I’d say the same about Steve Buscemi had he not gotten a role in which he could demonstrate his brilliant diversity, though the pleasure of watching him was to his merit only, and had nothing to do with how his character was written. It was offensive to women as a sub-group, as almost all of them were portrayed as lust objects with IQs of Forrest Gump level, and likewise it was offensive to men because almost all of them were portrayed as strapping teenagers with raging hormones (yet there definitely was more diversity between men’s characters in general than between women’s). Just about the only person it wasn’t offensive to was Adam Sandler, because he co-wrote it and let’s be honest: he’s a douche anyway.

The movie is a sequel to Grown Ups, where the four high school friends Lenny (Adam Sandler), Eric (Kevin James), Kurt (Chris Rock), and Marcus (David Spade) have a reunion long after they’ve grown into adulthood. That movie was mediocre at best, but that’s a review for another time. In Grown Ups 2, Lenny and his family have moved back to Lenny’s hometown, where his friends live as well. Lenny’s back to hanging out with his friends and, in an attempt to relive their youth, they decide to throw a big party. In the meantime, stuff happens.

Immediately, the movie takes off with a joke that’s supposed to be “so mean it’s funny”, but instead is a cheap shot milking the cliche that mothers-in-law are a pain (especially when they’re from the woman’s side).

GU21

It’s morning, and Lenny and his wife, Roxanna (Salma Hayek), are in bed when Lenny wakes up to find a deer in his bedroom. He tells Roxanne to open the window, but Roxanne is still sleeping and turns over on her side. Then, to convince her to get up and open the window, Lenny tells her:

“I think your mother is here from Mexico, and she needs to leave. Open the window, now.”

There is so much wrong with this joke, I don’t know where to begin. Making fun of your mother-in-law can be funny but you have to do it right. Firstly, this joke is way too obvious. Ha-ha, calling your mother-in-law a deer. Better and funnier insults have been thought of and made. (A deer is a pretty cool animal, by the way.) Secondly, Lenny makes that joke to not set his wife off into a panic and make her open the window in her slumber. But to imply that Roxanne would agree – even in slumber – to let her mother leave upon arrival from Mexico, and subsequently let her leave through the window, is very rude and disrespectful. It either means that Roxanne hates her mother as much as her husband does (in which case her mother wouldn’t have come over, I reckon), or that they have a relationship in which Lenny can just vent his apparent hatred for her mother, and be rude to her mother, with her accepting it (in which case Lenny is an oppressive macho and it’s a pretty fucked up relationship). Worse, though, the joke is in the movie, which means Adam Sandler thought the viewers would appreciate it. But since this joke comes completely without any prior events, meaning the viewer hasn’t been able to get acquainted with the possibly rotten character of Roxanne’s mother, it means the only people who could find it funny are men who already hate their mothers-in-law. And since this movie was meant for a wide audience, it means that Adam Sandler assumed so many thousands or maybe even millions of men hate their mothers-in-law. To think a joke is automatically funny simply because it’s the mother-in-law who takes the piss is pretty misogynistic. It may even be offensive to men who fall into Sandler’s demographic.

To make matters worse, Roxanne then justifies the joke by waking up, discovering the deer, and panicking. She starts screaming hysterically, causing the deer to rear up and pee all over Lenny’s face. The reason this isn’t funny is because it’s just as misogynistic as the first joke. Even though Roxanne may feel threatened, she’s facing a calm deer and not a wild stampede. There’s no reason for her to not keep it together. Yet she’s the weaker sex, of course, so she screams and screams like Freddy Krueger himself is coming for her, thereby duping her husband who ends up getting peed in the face. Of course, had Roxanne thought it was her mother and opened the window in her slumber, none of this would have happened. So here’s the woman taking the blame for the rude joke and Lenny’s misfortune. Aw, women and their crazy. Misogyny at its finest.

What follows next is an absolutely ridiculous scene in which the deer flees through the hallway, bursts into the bathroom where Greg, the oldest son of Roxanne and Lenny, is taking a shower. Greg sees the animal and starts screaming as loud as his mother, causing the deer to rear up again and pee all over him as well. He just stands there with his eyes closed, struggling to hold off the stream, for way too long. How about closing the shower curtain and washing off the urine (the shower is still running)? Instead, Roxanne runs up from her bathroom, sees her own son naked, and starts screaming and pointing at his penis. It’s hard to believe. What mother in her right mind would be so utterly shocked by the sight of her son’s penis that she’d start screaming hysterically? In fact, what adult woman (mother or not) would panic at the sight of a teen boy’s penis? It’s just stupid.

Finally, they succeed in getting the deer out of the house. For this, Lenny sacrificed the cuddly toy of his daughter, Becky, and once outside the deer tears it apart with the ease and vigor of a hungry lynx. In the deer’s antlers hangs one of Roxanne’s bras, left from the strange effort (throwing laundry) of getting it out of the house. The mailman, who’s showed up in the meantime, sees the bra and, impressed, asks Roxanne if it’s hers. He tries to high-five Lenny. Roxanne gets offended (rightly so) and covers her boobs with her arms. She looks away, and behind her back Lenny completely ignores his wife’s discomfort and proudly high-fives the mailman. Then, when he sees her angry look, asks: “What?” Not only does he make a horrible example to his children, who are right there and whom he must have made to feel just as uncomfortable, he also didn’t defend his wife and treated her as a piece of ass to flaunt.

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So, that’s just the opening scene. Next, we get to see Eric, Kurt, and Marcus with their families amidst equally stupid jokes. Eric’s wife, Sally (Maria Bello), is trying to teach their son Bean math, but her son miserably fails at it and she does nothing to help him because she “doesn’t want to ruin his confidence”. Of course, Eric makes a bunch of mean, suggestive jokes about Bean, and later about his daughter Donna, who’s pimped her boots in a way no teenage girl would even think about doing. Kurt is the only one who seems to enjoy his family, giving his wife, Deanne (Maya Rudolph), a necklace for their 20th anniversay. Deanne forgot however, and their big-mouthed children obviously enjoy the painful situation, making it more painful by openly making fun of them with comments the audience would or should have made, had the movie given them any reason to feel such sentiment. Last but not least, Marcus (David Spade) picks the-son-he-never-knew-he-had up from the train station. The son, Braden, appears to have a boiling aggression inside of him, and there’s nothing about it that makes it even remotely funny.

A bunch of bad jokes later we get acquainted with the school bus driver. He and his crazy are supposed to add some juice to the mix, but all that his character is is over the top. His hair is weird, he has a goofy look on his face, he confesses his wife left him after three weeks, and then explains that she left him for eating a banana with his butt in his mother-in-law’s house. Of course that’s crazy, but it’s also nearly impossible, unless he means anal sex and even then it’s unimaginative bullshit. Next, he says that a doctor has given him some pills to make him feel better, then immediately bursts out two lines in different voices as to show he’s suffering from schizophrenia (and the pills aren’t helping). Then smiles as if nothing has happened. It’s laying it on way too thick. Besides, who would let such a person drive a school bus, anyway?

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For some reason, Lenny decides to fill in for Nick, the bus driver, and we see him picking Kurt’s children up. When Kurt asks where the bus driver is, Lenny says he’s “filling in for…” and proceeds to mimic what he thinks is a crazy person. Either Adam Sandler has no morals or he threw it all out the window for this one. There’s nothing funny about being nice to someone in his face and then insulting him behind his back. We all do it, of course, but that’s among ourselves and that’s fine. Not that I feel for the bus driver because he’s just too surreal to relate to, but here Adam Sandler assumes the viewers are on his side (ergo: find it funny) just because the bus driver is a loon. It’s just another cheap shot, degrading another character to make himself look better, and specifically because the character is so easy to make fun of. It would be true art to make a movie in which the viewer gets to feel sympathy for the character. Adam Sandler must have real confidence issues.

Meanwhile, Kurt is making Deanne feel guiltier and guiltier about forgetting their 20th anniversary, because it makes for “the biggest get-out-of-jail-free” card. Apparently it’s cool to think your family is a burden, because in the meanwhile Lenny has also protested going to his daughter’s ballet recital at school (“oh, do I gotta go to that?”). Such warm, involved fathers. Are the viewers really supposed to be relating to these dicks? Anyway, Kurt takes a ride to work on the school bus and starts complaining about the oppressive regime of his wife. He tells Lenny:

“I’m gonna abuse this get-out-of-jail-free card, I’m telling you right now. I mean, maybe I’ll walk on the good rug without taking off my boots. Or have a nice non-diet soda with my dinner.”

Oh, women! Always harrassing men with their insistence on keeping the house clean and their family healthy.

They really pulled out all the cliches they could think of.

So, to make use of his get-out-of-jail-free card, Kurt suggests they throw a First Night of Summer party at Lenny’s house. Because, you know, with the oppressive regime he’s just not allowed to go to any parties ever. Of course, Lenny protests. The last party he had was senior year in high school (what?), and they can’t have parties anymore because they have wives and kids and stuff and they’re all such obstacles for fun things! Nevertheless, he agrees to “ask his wife”. Immediately thereafter, a fat kid starts bullying Donna and Keithie (Lenny’s middle child) and Lenny stands up for them through the intercom. Of course the kid had to be fat because if people aren’t obviously fat, ugly, or crazy, how else is the viewer to distinguish the good guys from the bad guys? Adam Sandler just jumps on the opportunity to make himself look good by making fun of the boy’s weight, calling him a “bean bag with arms and legs”. Ha-ha, so funny. It’s not offensive because it’s sad for the kid. It’s not even offensive because it might hurt fat people’s feelings. It’s offensive because it’s easy and cheap. Moreover, it’s pretty fucking disgusting to get this from a father in a bus full of children. Not the appropriate audience for acting cool (and rude). Lenny Feder must be the most incompetent father to ever have hit the big screen. Or at least he’s made it to the Top 5.

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Time to meet the next loon, Penny (Cheri Oteri).

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Penny had a thing for Lenny back in the 8th grade and is obviously suffering from Overly Attached Girlfriend Disorder, although she never actually was Lenny’s girfriend. She works in Roxanne’s boutique and for some reason she chose this moment to let Roxanne know that there still is something between them. Of course this is only true in her mind. To accentuate her looniness, she shows Roxanne a note in which she asks Lenny if he liked her hair better in a barrette or a headband. Lenny answered “barrette”. Not only did Penny keep the meaningless note but she also still wears the barrette. Yes, this is insane but is it funny? Don’t answer that, it was a rhetoric question. It’s more cheap comedy. Additionally, by now it seems that the main characters live in a world where everyone is crazy except them. That would have made for quite a story, or it might have anyway, but here the only purpose it serves is so the “normal people” can ridicule them.

In any case, Roxanne just looks at Penny funny and leaves the shop.

The next loon we meet is the principle of high school, with obviously no respect from his students. His students wrote “loser” on the side of his car with spray paint, and he just stands there, amazed and delighted at the fact that they wrote it right. He also has a big belly and is wearing a far too short shirt, which makes him crazy, of course, and therefore it’s funny that the students vandalized his car and filled it with blue paint. Such a good joke!

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Everybody laughs. Even the concierge. And when he walks up to Lenny and Kurt and cheerfully comments something along the lines of “can you believe this”, Lenny sides with the students and insults him, saying:

“Maybe they’re just mad because you keep going on to babyGap to buy your clothes.”

Oh, the hilarity. Stahp. Please. No, really. Please. Stop.

However, the movie has only just begun. Another insult gets flung at the principal. Nick the bus driver gets to be a target one more time when Lenny pulls the string with which he’s tied him behind the wheel, thereby also lifting his arm as if he’s waving. Again and again, and again and again, as if Nick is a puppet, with someone laughing very loud in the background. Next, we see Lenny and Kurt driving the bus while Nick is hanging upside down behind them.

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How that’s funny is beyond me. It could be funny, but within this context it’s just two men tying another man upside down for their own amusement, just because he’s weird. That’s not humor, that’s dickery. That’s trying to be cool. (I can’t help but feel like Chris Rock kind of distanced himself from this and went into this thinking: “I’m just going say my lines and do what I’ve got to do”. He is way too intelligent to consider this a decent movie.) I swear, Adam has issues.

So, they pick up Eric at his mother’s, talk a bit about how his close relationship with his mother is going to ruin his marriage. Sadly, of course it’s the fat guy taking the piss again, fulfilling the cliche of mother’s baby who got spoiled too much. He walks up to the bus and the first thing he tells Kurt and Lenny is:

“Don’t tell the wife.”

Why would they? Anyway, so far Kurt and Lenny – albeit dickheads – are the only two normal men in the movie. Eric is one of the guys, however, and proves to be as much of a dickhead. He gets into the bus and unties Nick with one swift move, causing Nick to fall on his head and slide – as the bus starts to move – into the back and bump his head against the back door. The men laugh, Lenny and Eric shake hands.

Then follows what I think is the most infuriating scene of the movie. Roxanne, Deanne, and Sally go to yoga class. They talk a bit about their husbands, of course, because women don’t have lives beyond their male partners. Deanne brought her youngest, who is on a leash and completely out of control. He growls and pulls and bites into a plastic ball, which pops immediately. Ha-ha, so crazy. I see no reason why any woman would bring a child to yoga class, especially if the child is so wild it needs to be on a leash, and misbehaving children for their own sake aren’t funny at all. It gets worse, of course. The concierge comes in and says the yoga instructor told him to fill in for a bit. He instructs the women to jump up and down so he can glare at their boobs, then tells them to turn around, bend over, and slap their butts. One woman is wise enough to ask why they should turn around, but otherwise they all follow his instructions completely. There isn’t one woman who objects or notices that their “exercises” have nothing to do with yoga. It’s gravely insulting. The sexual objectification is tremendous, and women are portrayed as dumb creatures who believe everything they’re told.

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An honorable mention in this misogynistic whirlwirld should be made of “Beefcake Kitty”, a female professional bodybuilder. She complains about having Deanne’s youngest in there (rightly so), saying “the leash better not trip me up”. Upon which Deanne answers it’s not the leash but her “big ass hairy man feet” that are gonna trip her up. That was unnecessary because Beefcake Kitty voiced a legit concern and she didn’t get personal either. A fight almost ensues, but Roxanne apologizes for Deanne, calling Beefcake Kitty “sir”. The conversation ends here so it’s Beefcake Kitty who takes the piss. Apparently, if you’re a woman and (very) muscled, you’re not really a woman at all. (And the women in this movie are dicks as well.)

The yoga instructor comes in and the concierge gives himself away, causing the women to boo at him and Deanne’s youngest son to bite his leg. I’m not even going to explain why this isn’t funny. Of course the women – nothing but sexual creatures – all swoon over their yoga instructor and verbally harrass him.

Pff. I’m not even halfway and I’m already tired of this movie.

The next person to make fun of is Malcolm, because he only has half a head of hair.

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Then comes the cross-eyed weapons salesman.

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And the “gay” sports teacher.

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I’m not even gonna.

The four friends walk out of K Mart after having done some shopping for the big party, and walk into an old acquaintance, Officer Fluzoo (Shaquille O’Neal). The ballet recital comes up. The guys say they’re late, but he urges them to go. His colleague, Officer Dante (Peter Dante) offers to give them an escort, with sirens and everything. So, they go and it becomes clear why Fluzoo insisted. The ballet instructor is a beautiful woman who sensually dances along with her students. Odd and inappropriate as it is, the men all stand there drooling over this woman, because in this movie women are only interesting if they’re fuckable. (Everyone forgets Becky, of course, except for Lenny and Roxanne.)

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Officer Dante remarks he wants to arrest her for disturbing the peace… in his pants. Rolling my eyes. I’m going to turn up the pace a little bit because this movie is boring me to shits. Some bad poop jokes follow…

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the principal eating fruit loops from his bellybutton and getting covered in blue paint… again…

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…and more objectified women.

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This last still is from a scene where the oldests of Kurt and Lenny accidentally walk into a college party and get discovered before they get the chance to leave. The girl who discovers them hands them a beer and hugs them, and they immediately change their minds about going. However, they are “not ready” to drink beer, so they decide to ditch the beer, pretend they’re drunk, and party with the college students so they can hang out with the girls.

All of this was just the first 40 minutes or so of the movie, and I think my IQ just dropped 10 points. I’m going to end it here before I end up with the intellect level of Kim Kardashian. To wrap it up, this movie’s basic message is as follows: unless you’re an accomplished, middle aged man without too much or too little body weight, you’re good. Or, freely derived from the brain child of Adam Sandler: “If you’re not like me, you’re unworthy.” This man needs to stop making movies because he completely and utterly lacks the talent for it. It’s so bad it’s offensive, and it’s so offensive it’s bad. Bah.

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Wearing A Lot Of Make Up Is Part Of The Problem – Like It Or Not

vintageadThe world is full of people who just don’t understand. Just now, I read an article called “There’s Nothing Wrong With Wearing A Lot Of Make Up” on Refinery29 and this is a direct reply to that article.

In short the article states that women should stop “make up bullying” and categorizes the #NoMakeUpSelfie and #WokeUpLikeThis as such. Aside from confessing that she spends 40 minutes a morning putting on her make up, she argues that make up is a part of personal style and that it is (or can be) a powerful thing. She also mentions that this doesn’t make her less of a feminist. To me, it looks like she completely missed the point of feminism. Here it goes.

Let me break it down first. Feminism is about gender equality. Equality means, of course, equal rights, equal pay, and equal treatment, the latter at least for as far as biology permits. Traditionally, women have been considered inferior to men. Argue this but throughout history it’s been well documented. Even in the Bible it says “the husband is the head of the wife” (Ephesians 5:22-24), and nowadays in traditional weddings women are still expected to vow obedience to their husbands. As a result, women have perfected the art of decorating themselves in order to please men (to please their husbands, to be considered an eligible wife, and to be considered fuckable). From women’s desire to be visually pleasing the beauty industry was born. The beauty industry exists to make people, but especially women, look more fuckable. Make up is a huge part of the beauty industry.

With the rise of technology, and specifically photography and photoshop, the desire to be visually pleasing has spun out of control. Already beautiful women were made to look like they were not just beautiful but perfect. This is what is still happening today. Make up techniques were created to help women look like the photoshopped women on glossy covers. The reason you put on your foundation and concealer is because you want to look like you have perfect skin, and the reason you use contouring is because you want to have stronger cheekbones or a sharper nose. You are trying to look perfect. But you’re not. It’s not possible.

vintagead2That’s why women who perpetuate the standards set for us in a patriarchic society – such as Miley Cyrus during the 2013 VMAs and Kim Kardashian with too much foundation on her face – aren’t role models. At least not for those who want to wake up and not feel like they should be prettier, skinnier, fairer, taller, shorter, and so on. You may not have given it much consideration, but people and especially teenagers are very sensitive to information presented by the media. Teenagers look for role models, and if all girls are presented with are perfect looking women who put a lot of value in looking perfect (whether it be artificial or not), they’re bound to end up thinking something is wrong with them. Role models who (unintentionally or inadvertently) make their fans feel bad about themselves aren’t really role models at all.

The reason #NoMakeUpSelfie and #WokeUpLikeThis exist is because women have recognized that they’ve been trying to live up to impossible standards, and worse: that it’s been expected of them. They are saying that they do not look like billboard models and that they are beautiful – and feminine – the way they are. They make a movement that voices its demands for gender equality. Men, after all, aren’t expected to take care of their looks as much as women, and you can judge that just by comparing the amount of body hair on a male and a female body.

The thing with equality, whether it be gender or race or otherwise, is not just endorsing it from a moral standpoint and waiting for it to happen. It will never happen that way. You have to actively break the pattern and not engage in perpetuation of inequality, like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King did when it was about racial equality in the United States. So, these hashtags exist to break the pattern. They exist to let women know that human bodies are diverse and imperfect, and, within those spectrums, beautiful. And that is an excellent message to pass on to young human beings. In fact, it’s an excellent message for all human beings.

vintagead3It’s your every right to enjoy putting on your make up, and you’re right to some extent: it does not make you dull, vapid, materialistic, or silly. It does, however, by definition and recorded history, make you less of a feminist. Especially if you consider make up empowering, because you are a bright, young woman, and make up is not about that. Make up is about how you look, not about the qualities you possess to truly empower yourself. So, if make up is that important to you, while empowerment is as well, you may want to reconsider your values.

The women who oppose (thick layers of) make up are not bullying you or anyone else. They are saying that we look beautiful enough naturally, and that there are more important things to us than the fullness of our lips or the fairness of our skin. Simply put, they are saying that we are no longer going to go around trying to look the most eligible for wedding or bedding. And if you consider that bullying, you’re on the other side of feminism.

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